UW–Madison partners with University of Washington for new special education doctoral opportunity

The UW–Madison School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education is offering a unique doctoral training grant opportunity through a partnership with the University of Washington.

Qual-LEADS (Qualitative Leaders in Equity, Access, and Disability in Schools) is a doctoral training program that places a focus on qualitative methods and critical theory in special education. The program is designed to train leaders committed to culturally sustaining, inclusive education with expertise in qualitative methodology — and to recruit doctoral students of color and students with disabilities into the field of special education research. Qual-LEADS is funded through the Office of Special Education Programs 325D personnel preparation award.


School of Education alumna Carly Roberts, now working in the University of Washington’s College of Education, will be partnering with University of Washington alumna and current UW–Madison faculty member Carlyn Mueller to offer this grant opportunity. Additional faculty supporting the grant include Maggie Beneke and Katie Lewis (University of Washington) and Hailey Love (UW–Madison).

The two institutions will recruit four doctoral students each for their program. Throughout the course of their doctoral program, students will participate in two summer qualitative research institutes and regular qualitative methods-focused seminars. Additionally, community will be built between the two groups through collaborative research projects and connections between faculty and students at the two universities, according to Mueller. Students admitted to Qual-LEADS will receive tuition remission and a stipend, alongside relocation funds, research materials, and conference attendance opportunities.  

“Typically, special education research and practice focuses on interventions and attempts to ‘fix’ or solve disability as a deficit, which often de-centers the experiences, knowledge, and expertise of people with disabilities, particularly people of color with disabilities and their families,” says Mueller, who is an assistant professor of special education with the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. She adds that the program intentionally focuses on qualitative research methods and frameworks that allow for a different view on disability, as well as an acknowledgement of intersecting oppressions and power dynamics. 

Hailey Love

QUAL-Leads is currently accepting applications through UW–Madison’s Special Education PhD program. Prospective students who are interested in critical disability studies, disability critical race theory, culturally and linguistically sustaining pedagogies, participatory methods, and/or other critical methods and theories are especially encouraged to apply. 

Mueller adds: “Our partnership leverages UW–Seattle and UW–Madison faculty’s critical theoretical grounding and qualitative expertise to support scholars in developing solutions that address long-standing educational issues facing multiply-marginalized disabled students in special education.”

Anyone who is interested in learning more about QUAL-Leads or applying to the Special Education PhD program can contact Carlyn Mueller (carlyn.mueller@wisc.edu) or Hailey Love (hailey.love@wisc.edu) for more information.

Pin It on Pinterest